Thursday, November 15, 2012

My Leatherback Adventure: Prologue

After years of longing to see the Leatherback Turtle, my dream came true in the middle of this year, thanks to Prof. Chan and Dr. Manjula.  It was actually one of my New Year 2012 resolutions so there you have it, I do work on my resolutions.  :)

My 10-day trip to Jamursba Medi (JM), a beach on Irian Jaya was also made more interesting in that I have always felt that Papua New Guinea had this mysterious, frontier feel about it.  And whenever it is mentioned, my mind would start conjuring images of cannibals with tusks embedded in their noses doing war dances as they cook you over a pot; a product of my over-active imagination and too much fiction literature.  The fact that the location was a 9-hour boat ride away added to the excitement.  This is as remote as it would get.  No access road.  No electricity (except via solar panels & generators).  No chalets or resorts.  I’d be camping!

The JM project was a collaborative effort between the State University of Papua (UNIPA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and it was thru Prof. Chan’s acquaintance Dr. Tiwari of the NOAA that I would finally get the experience of a lifetime.   The JM project spans the 21kms long Jamursba Medi beach and another beach 30kms east of JM called Wermon.  And guess what, there are estuarine crocodiles in Wermon (Not that I saw any although I did go looking...).  These are the really mean-looking, big ass ones that you see the late Steve Irwin wrestling with.  It’s like I’m living a naturalist’s life.  

Unlike the project in Chagar Hutang on Redang Island, this was on a bigger scale, partly due to the stakes involved and also the size of the area.  The challenges faced were also different.
The Bird's Head Peninsula.  Jamursba Medi is located between the major cities of Manokwari and Sorong.
Jamursba Medi is a beach located along the north coast of the Birds head peninsula in Papua and includes 3 beaches with a total length of 21 kms.  It is flanked by 2 capes, the Jamursba cape and the Medi cape, Hence the name.  There are villages (Saobeba on the Jamursba cape and Warmedi at the other) at both capes but both are separated from the nesting beach by rocky outcrops.  The Jamursba Medi beach is divided into 3 sub-beaches; Wembrak which is at the far west followed by Batu Rumah in the middle and Warmamedi in the east.  In addition, there is a separate beach called Wermon, located 30kms away from Batu Rumah.

Next... Day 1: The Journey to Jamursba Medi

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